A battle of gangster cliches“Running Wild” recycles the masculine sentimentality of Hong Kong gangster flicks from the ’80s.
It starts and ends with men smeared with blood, and fills everything in between with stabbing and chopping, on top of other actions that involve men in leather gloves and trench coats.
The story stars Oh Jin-woo (Gwon Sang-woo), a rowdy detective who has lost his stepbrother through a murder involving a gang led by Yu Gang-jin. Oh teams up with Jang Do-young (Yu Ji-tae), a prosecutor, to crack down on the gang. But as the film nears its climax, Yu reaches out to his enemy’s family, prompting instincts in two men (Oh and Jang) to “run wild.”
The film is overwhelmed with ambiguous mafia speech that often seems out of touch.
The dialogue seems to be trying to make a certain point ― it just doesn’t know which one.
In one scene, Oh pulls Jang’s suit, yelling, “There are two things I hate the most in this world. One is cockroaches. The other is thugs. And you just called me a thug.”
This is actually partly due to mistranslation from Korean to English. The film’s word for “thug,” which is translated from yangachi, is actually a “punk kid” or “hooligan.”
So what? The director Kim Seong-su must have veered far from reality to have expected audiences to be moved by that kind of dull dialogue.
If he had only tried not to decorate his cliche-ridden plot with grand philosophical gestures, the film may at least have avoided its harshest criticism.
Such as when Yu smiles evilly near the end and quotes a Buddhist script, saying, “Like the wind that penetrates the net, like a lion that’s not scared of a sound, like a lotus flower that can’t be dirtied, you go on with your own life, as if you neither want nor trust anything.”
It’s hard for the viewer to tell whether the director meant it as a joke or a serious comment.
Directed by Kim Seong-su
Starring Gwon Sang-woo, Yu Ji-tae
Running time: 124 minutes
by Park Soo-mee